Manchester United loanee helps Sunderland to key win over Huddersfield Town
Alex Pritchard ended Sunderland’s winless run with a goal on his former ground as Tony Mowbray’s side ground out three vital points in horrendous conditions.
Amad then continued his promising form with a late breakaway goal to send the travelling support into delirium.
In truth it was far from a vintage display from the Black Cats, partly due to some of their own errors in possession but also in part because of a Huddersfield Town side whose defensive organisation has clearly improved considerably under new head coach Mark Fotheringham.
Moments of quality were few and far between but the counter that led to Pritchard’s goal was one of them, and the attacking midfielder took great delight in celebrating in front of the fans who had booed him throughout.
As they had done at Luton Sunderland started poorly, too often gifting up possession in their own half and offering encouragement to a side buoyed by their win against Millwall on this turf days previous. They had a big let off when Rudoni, who the Black Cats had tried to sign in the summer, gathered a free kick on the edge of the area and was allowed to turn. The midfielder’s strike was clean and Patterson was most definitely beaten, but his effort flashed just over the crossbar.
Mowbray cut a frustrated figure as his side struggled to get into the final third, mainly because they weren’t holding onto the ball for anywhere near long enough.
That slowly began to change, and a quarter of an hour in they had a big chance when O’Nien swung in a cross from deep on the right flank. The Huddersfield defender tracked Dajaku’s run across goal but that left Cirkin free at the back post, and though he struck the bouncing ball well first time he put it wide of the far post.
Three minutes later Dajaku did the same from almost the exact same position, reacting quickest when Nicholls spilled an effort from Corry Evans back into the danger area.
In truth, that was the last moment of real drama in a woeful half as the conditions continued to degenerate. To reflect just how bad the conditions in which both sides were labouring were, there was at one stage a break in play as an advertising banner had been blown onto the pitch.
The break seemed to suit the hosts the better, with Rudoni firing just wide from the edge of the box as Sunderland started sluggishly even with Simms now on the pitch.
Mowbray’s side were being carved open at will, and only a tentative finish from Holmes allowed Patterson to deny him when played clean through on goal, before Rhodes hit the follow up over the bar from a good position. Sunderland were on the ropes, from where they strung together a quite magnificent counter. Amad and Roberts played a delightful 1-2 and the latter slid the ball across for Pritchard who converted first time. Having been roundly mocked when slipping over minutes earlier, he now celebrated with his fingers in his ears.
Mowbray moved quickly to overhaul his midfield from the bench and that went some way to taking the pace out of the game, and the hosts. Amad went close from just inside the box as the visitors steadied and intermittently threatened, but the game remained too close for comfort and Diarra underlined that when firing just wide on the break.
The hosts twice went close in the latter stages but Ward and Boyle both were unable to convert from close range as Sunderland held on, adding their second when they broke away and Simms played a good 1-2 with Amad, who fired through the legs of Nicholls.
Huddersfield Town XI: Nicholls; Ruffels, Spencer, Ruffels, Helik, Nakayama (Diarra, 45); Kasumu (Mahoney, 70), Camara; Rudoni, Jackson (Boyle, 88), Holmes; Rhodes (Ward, 62)
Subs: Bilokapic, Mbete, Russell, Boyle
Sunderland XI: Patterson; O’Nien, Wright, Batth, Cirkin; Evans (Neil, 61) , Embleton (Ba, 61), Pritchard (Bennette, 90); Roberts (Matete, 79) , Amad, Dajaku (Simms, 45)
Subs: Bass, Hume
Bookings: Camara, 42 Batth, 57 Holmes, 81 Ba, 86